Thelwell was handed his chance in the first team after initially impressing in the reserves this season. Those performances led to a place on the bench and, finally, a Premiership debut to remember against Liverpool last weekend.
The young defender joined Ledley King — another 20-year-old who has taken every step from youth team to reserve to Premiership in his stride — and Luke Young, 21, in the side against the Anfield giants. All three have worked their way up via reserve team football at Spurs - just like Stephen Carr and Stephen Clemence - and now the challenge is there for the likes of Ciaran Toner and John Jackson to try and follow.
Reserve team boss Hughton said: “The other younger lads who are playing in the reserve team and of course the Under-19s have got to look at it and think these lads have been given the opportunity and at some stage that opportunity might be there for them as well.
“If you look at Alton’s performances in the reserves he’s done ever so well and he was in there simply because of how well he’s done for the reserve team.
“Ledley’s been a little unfortunate as regards injuries, he’s had a stop-start year but there has never been any doubting his ability.
“They both played against Liverpool, both did very, very well and it doesn’t matter for whatever reason they are playing, injuries or if they’ve done well enough to push through, it is an opportunity for them to play and show they can handle football at that level.
“One or two games doesn’t make your decisions on them final as such but I thought they did well, a testament to both boys who have worked very hard. What they’ve got to look at now is an opportunity to play more games.”
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Chris Hughton has used Alton Thelwell as a shining example to the club’s promising crop of youngsters and declared: “Opportunity could knock for you as well.”